New Codes on Premises Security & Electronic Security Installations

The National Fire protection Association's Technical Committee on Premises Security has worked to develop two new technical documents dealing with security in the built environment.


For more than three years, the National Fire protection Association's Technical Committee on Premises Security has worked to develop two new technical documents dealing with security in the built environment. NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security, and NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electronic Security Systems, have not yet been approved by the membership or the NFPA Standards Council, but they are available in draft through NFPA's Web site, www.nfpa.org.

The Process
NFPA first decided to proceed with this project in 1994 at the request of interested members of the association. The scope of the Premises Security Technical Committee states: "This committee shall have the primary responsibility for documents on the overall security program for the protection of premises, people, property, and information specific to a particular occupancy. The committee shall have responsibility for the installation of premises security systems."

Membership is made up of representatives from organizations including ASIS International, the American Institute of Architects, the National Electrical Contractors Association, Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, Professional Alarm Services Organization of North America and the Security Industry Association.

Standards development within NFPA is a consensus process that allows any interested party to participate. NFPA 730 and 731 have been available for public review and comment since August of 2003. The Technical Committee met in February of 2004 to review and recommend action on all the public comments received. The actions of the Technical Committee have been published in the NFPA's Report on Proposals as well as on its Web site. This allows the public to provide further comment on the committee actions before the document is put before the full NFPA membership for action.

The closing date to comment on the committee's actions on public proposals was October 1, 2004. The committee will meet to act on comments, and the Report on Comments that will document their action is scheduled to be available on April 1, 2005. NFPA 730 and 731 are scheduled to be put before the association membership at the June 2005 World Fire Safety Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. After adoption by NFPA, these documents will be put on a regular revision cycle that can range from two to five years between editions.

Standards versus Guides An NFPA document can be developed as a code, a standard, a recommended practice or a guide. From the onset, the committee agreed that the document providing criteria for design and installation of electronic security systems (NFPA 731) should be a standard.

NFPA defines a standard as "a document, the main text of which contains only mandatory provisions using the word "shall" to indicate requirements and which is in a form generally suitable for mandatory reference by other standards or code or for adoption into law." A standard can be adopted into law. But standards are typically made applicable when they are referenced through foundation documents, such as building codes.

For example, take NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. This standard does not require that sprinklers be provided in a building. However, when a building code requires sprinklers to be provided, it will reference a specific edition of NFPA 13 as being applicable. The system is then required to be designed and installed in accordance with the standard.

NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electronic Security Systems, is written to be referenced by other documents. Reference documents could include bid specifications and contract documents.

The committee had numerous debates on what type of document NFPA 730 should be, settling finally on a guide?"a document that is advisory or informative in nature and that contains only nonmandatory provisions."

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